Monday, March 27, 2017


And so she discovered she had become a Taitai, a married woman who's not working and tries to fill her days with any meaningful activities. Is this the destiny of accompanying spouses in China?


She woke up. Outside the window, the usual gray sky surrounded the city. 

“Will I ever be used to that?” she whispered.

She wandered into the empty house for a while and finally decided to have a coffee. She sat at the table, slowly sipping it. Another empty day to fill.

She had been living in China for one year already, and now she felt like she got used to her new life. Able to cope with the differences without struggling, she had learned not only how to survive, but how to make the most out of her expat condition. 

But, at the same time, she felt lost. Like many other women, when she decided to follow her husband who got a job offer in China, she left her job. At the beginning she fooled herself thinking that she could work in China: but it was too complicated. In her home country she was a secretary, and in China there were already plenty of them: they were local, they could speak Chinese, didn’t need a work permit, didn’t need to be overpaid. She gave up very soon. She tried to do something else.

She got in contact with many expat associations and knew many other ladies, all in her same condition. Some of them were appreciating the relaxed pace of their life: they were filling their day shopping, going to restaurants, taking care of their bodies in massage centers or nail salons.
She tried to fit in. But she couldn’t. Far from judging their lifestyle, she didn’t find these activities meaningful to her in the long term.

She got involved in charity. 

She also got involved in her son’s international school activities.

She tried to learn Mandarin (not much success in this!).

But she still didn’t find her new path, her new place. She realized she had become a Taitai, word that in Chinese means married woman, but for expats is also the condition of a wife who dropped her old life and is struggling to find a new role.

“You have to reinvent yourself” But how?

She sighed. Since her husband got a five-year assignment, there were still four years to go. She couldn't say she was depressed, but that subtle feeling of frustration was really bothering her! She needed to do something, to find a way.

Did you ever feel like this? Among Suzhou expat wives this is a familiar feeling. You arrive here thinking is just for a short time, feeling like you are on holiday, and you end up staying longer than you expected. You have the sensation that real life is somewhere else. You live a comfortable life, don’t have to rush, and can finally take care of yourself. Yet, you feel something is missing. So, what can you do? 

These are few tips:

1) Reinvent yourself is a common suggestion you can read on expat manuals. But what does it mean? It means that you have to go beyond your old skills and find something new. You have to look deep inside yourself and discover what your real passions and talents are. Maybe you were good at painting. Or, like me, you love writing. What about cooking? 
Commit yourself to your new project and start a fresh, marvelous journey. 

2) Are you good in handicraft? Why don’t try to make it a job? Some ladies create beautiful accessories inspired by Chinese culture, others produce home-made soaps. Let's see if your old passion for crochet can turn into a career!

3) Join some inspiring group of women who are in the search for interesting projects. Not only leisure associations but also groups of people that share your same interests. Internations can help you, and WeChat groups are an excellent source of like-minded people as well. Ask around, and you'll find something!

4) Learn something new and useful. You can get an HSK, the official exam to test your Mandarin language ability. Or study for an online degree. What about register for a graphic designer online course? Choose something that you can use once you move back in your country. 

But, please, also find the time to meet people and have fun with friends (and even some shopping wouldn’t hurt!).

Any other suggestion? I’d like to read it in the comments!


  1. Keep your mind open. You can make friends in most bizarre events. Try something new - what you might never do back home. If it's not for you don't do it again, but it can be something amazing also and bring you forward to new adventures! I didn't expect to get best friends from kids classmates' parents, but so I did - after taking part to crazy&fun parents events.

  2. I was that woman. Who could have thought that someone, who doesn't even know me, could write on my behalf. The only difference is that I dipped into depression. In fact, I sunk into it for several painful, torturous months. But I have come out of it; and am now in a very productive and creative space. Last year I hated SH; this year it's not quite love but it is intense fascination. I have learnt so much about myself and about who I am probably as a result of losing myself. I've just launched a parenting course to help people improve the way they live, love and parent. And to stimulate those other taitai's who are looking for some meaningful, stimulating things to do in SH.

    1. Wow, yours is an amazing story! Keep going like this, you are great!